On October 4, I debated atheist New Testament scholar Dennis MacDonald. For two decades, MacDonald has been contending that the Gospels are almost entirely literary fictions, created to imitate and compete with Greco-Roman fictions, especially the Homeric Epics. Our debate was on the resurrection of Jesus. However, I knew the matter of his view on the Gospels would arise. So, I spent a lot of time reading MacDonald’s work, researching many of his points, and formulating replies. The debate took place at Washburn University and was organized by my friend and campus ministry leader Craig Freerksen. Craig also organized my second debate with Richard Carrier in 2009.
The debate with MacDonald went well and it was spirited at times. Craig told me the student feedback was very positive and that several students shared that they were greatly encouraged in their faith by it. Two people told me they thought the debate was so lopsided that they were feeling sorry for MacDonald toward the end. Following the debate, it was nice to see and spend a few minutes with a group of 20-30 students from another university who had driven 45 minutes to attend the debate. The debate was video recorded and may be viewed HERE:Earlier on the same day as the debate, I lectured to a group of high school students at a prep school in Topeka. Because these students are very sharp, some of whom will be tomorrow’s leaders, it could very well be that interacting with them may have been a more important event than the debate.